"I hate you."

Rasiel glared. "I hate you more."

"Mother thinks you're a demon."

"Father doesn't even care about you."

Bel flinched. "Only 'cause you were born first!"

"So I'm the heir," Rasiel drawled. He tilted his head. "And you're nothing but a spare."

A tremor lanced through Bel's hands and he bared his teeth, glaring at Rasiel through his bangs. "Shut up."

Rasiel ran a musing finger along the edge of his tiara. "When I'm king, even Mother will forget about you. I'll have you sent off to Blackworth to mine coal with the commoners. Your skin will turn grey, they say, and your hair too. There's nothing royal about—"

"Shut up!" Rasiel smiled pleasantly. "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Bel tackled him to the ground, barely registering his own movements as they thrashed in a tangle of limbs and profanity. Something squelched under his nails. He howled incoherently at Rasiel's bloody face, tearing and scraping and digging into his eyes. Servants clamored around them as two guards dragged Bel off of his brother. He hissed and cursed and spat in their stoic faces until they slammed his head against the cold stone floor and the world went black.

/\ o \/ o /\ o \/ o /\

"Belphegor, this behavior can no longer be tolerated." Bel scowled. Rasiel shifted his weight. Bel glanced at him, unnerved by his unusual silence and the black blindfold hiding his eyes. "Your brother was nearly rendered blind by your attack. Fortunately for you, Doctor Meade was able to heal his eyes. However…"

The king reached out and tugged away the blindfold, baring a tangle of jagged red scars. Rasiel's ice-blue eyes were like glittering diamonds in the middle of an inferno, cold with rage and hatred. Bel mirrored his glare.

"You're even uglier than before," he muttered.

"Silence." Anger twisting his noble features, the king struck the side of Bel's head. Bel gasped and recoiled, clutching at his temple. Fresh blood seeped from the half-healed injury as shock froze his voice. "I will not repeat myself, Belphegor. Before this incident, Isalya had convinced me that the conflicts between the two of you were merely brotherly disputes. Now, though, one of these 'brotherly disputes' has injured and permanently scarred the crown prince.

"I have decided upon a rather fitting punishment for you." The king's sneer smoothed as Bel struggled back into a kneeling position. "Doctor Meade will carve scars identical to Rasiel's into your face, so that you carry the same shame that your brother will for the rest of your lives."

There was no moment of disbelief. Bel saw Rasiel's smirk in edge of his vision, and his mind snapped into startling clarity.

He thought about killing them, snatching the king's precious crown from his head and pressing it against his throat until he suffocated. He thought about tearing out Rasiel's eyes for real, blinding him forever. He thought about killing them all and running away to some godforsaken country in Asia with filthy farmers and no proper royal family and plebeians who had never heard of Prince Belphegor of Ardor.

No, he decided. Not today. He would take these scars, receive them with the grace befitting of a prince even if he had to watch Doctor Meade carve them into his face with his eyes wide open. And they would serve as a reminder of everything Rasiel was, feeding the fire of bitterness inside him until the volcano could finally erupt.

/\ o \/ o /\ o \/ o /\

If there were one thing that the two brothers agreed on, it would be that they both hated their new haircuts. The king had declared it unseemly for the princes to be seen in public with such ghastly scars, and his glare had made it clear there was no room for argument. Bel had mumbled to himself that it was because of the king that Bel had the scars in the first place, and received another cuff on the head for the comment.

"Ow—!"

"Watch it, stupid!"

"You're stupid, stupid. I can't watch anything with these wretched bangs." Bel stuck out his foot in Rasiel's approximate direction and smirked at the loud thud, which was followed by a string of curses that one would never expect to leave a prince's mouth.

"Bastard," Rasiel spat. His clothing rustled as he, presumably, picked himself up off the ground.

"We're twins, stupid."

"Shut up, stupid."

Bel adapted quickly to the inconvenient bangs, and before long he could pin the castle servants to the wall as neatly as before. The maids were his favorite toys; their high-pitched shrieks made him giggle. They like playing with him too, he thought.

His relationship with Rasiel had only grown worse after the incident, despite the king's constant warnings and harsh punishments. Most of their interactions ended in blood—throwing rocks, throwing boulders. The battle was never-ending, an endless war with small triumphs but no true victory. But one day, Bel won permanently.